JASON S. SLAKTER, MD
Just a few weeks ago, we went through the process of interviewing candidates for our practice's fellowship program. After the usual battery of questions, posed to these highly trained and eager individuals, we gave them an opportunity to ask us any questions regarding our program that would help them in their own selection processes. Without exception, all of the candidates included the query, "What makes your program special?" What we came to realize was that the straightforward and honest answer was the diversity of experience provided by our practice.
Our group is made up of 10 full-time and four part-time physicians, some of whom practice medical retina exclusively, and others who enthusiastically engage in vitreoretinal surgery. There are different areas of academic interest as well, with age-related macular degeneration, diabetes, idiopathic inflammatory diseases, and surgery for macular pathology being among the areas of special interest for the partners. In addition, some are focused on clinical research, while others have a more basic science/technology orientation and pursue these areas, along with their clinical practice.
Beyond the strictly medical issues, our group possesses a wide range of skills and techniques of interpersonal expression, both with their patients as well as in their interactions with colleagues. Most enjoy teaching, with some utilizing a Socratic approach, gathering groups of young physicians together, and challenging them with interesting cases and diagnostic dilemmas. Others prefer to work one-on-one with the fellows and residents, acting as mentors guiding them through the learning process. We have some partners who enjoy "the stage," speaking at every opportunity offered, while others would rather work behind the scenes writing papers and avoiding the spotlight. We have individuals with interests and skills in the Internet and communication technology, business and management techniques, and even one who has a knack for office design and décor selection.
As might be expected, things are not always easy with a group as varied and, at times, intense as we are. There are unavoidable conflicts in the approach to managing patients and the office, as well as each other. Fortunately, these issues are resolved in an amiable if not lively manner, through a focus on mutual respect and common goals. In thinking about it, it is the wide-ranging and diverse nature of our practice that has made this group not only successful from a professional point of view, but also a pleasant and rewarding environment in which to practice medicine. I feel fortunate to be involved with individuals as talented and interesting as they are and wish the same for all of you, in particular those of you who are just entering the retinal community.